Is volunteering important when applying to college

How to make the most of high school extracurricular activities

Extracurricular activities are one of the most important parts of your college application, and an even more important part of your high school experience. By participating in clubs, sports, theater, volunteer programs, and other extracurricular activities, you will learn new skills, interact with different people, and get involved in your community.

College admissions officials don't see students simply as academic machines. While grades and test scores are undoubtedly the most important factors in your college application, admissions officers want to welcome students who are active, creative, and engaged in the world around them.

"Some large colleges have so many applications to review that they might just look for transcription and test results when reviewing applications," said Ryan Cassell, president of the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (SACAC). "But other colleges tend to consider a variety of other factors - certainly the (student) leadership outside the classroom, their involvement, and letters of recommendation."

So when they look at an applicant's profile, admissions officers want to see someone participating in at least some activities outside of school hours. Any after-school activity, from part-time jobs to piano lessons, can add to your college application.

There are several ways to get your extracurricular activities highlighted in your application, even if you don't have the most eye-catching resume. As a rule of thumb, colleges want students who are heavily involved in some activities and involved in their high school communities. If you can demonstrate this about yourself, then your application is in good shape.

Here are nine tips to help you get the most out of your extracurricular high school activities.

Take part in after-school activities that you enjoy

First and foremost, you should always have fun in the after-school activities that you participate in. When a college looks at your extracurricular activities, it wants to get a sense of who you are and what you will be doing as a student. According to Yale, your extracurricular activities should “show a deep commitment and a real appreciation for what you are doing in your time. The joy you get from the activities that are really important to you, rather than a resume with a long list of activities, will strengthen your candidacy. "

There's no point in investing your time and energy in an extracurricular activity that you don't enjoy just to make your college resume more attractive. The colleges are looking for students with different interests and extracurricular activities. Put your energies into organizations and activities that matter to you and that you want to carry on in your college career.

Take on leadership roles

If you simply join a club, the admissions officers will not see what you have achieved as part of that club.

For example, on Harvard's admissions website, applicants are asked:
● "Did you take full advantage of the opportunities?"
● "How is the quality of your activities?"
● "Do you seem to have a real commitment or leadership role?"

By taking leadership roles in clubs and after-school activities, you can demonstrate your contributions to the club and show colleges that you can lead groups. If you have difficulty obtaining leadership positions in your after-school activities, you can always take matters into your own hands and start your own club or organization. Colleges love when students take initiative and form groups or develop programs they are passionate about.

Track opportunities to volunteer or influence your local community

Volunteering is inherently no better in a college application than any other extracurricular area, whether it's a sport or a job with the school newspaper. However, volunteering shows
Colleges you are interested in helping others.

Some students will take part in international volunteer tours where they travel with a group to volunteer in disadvantaged communities around the world. These can be wonderful, life changing experiences, and students should take advantage of these opportunities when they can afford it. However, some admissions officials often view these volunteer trips as a benefit of the wealthy or as "volunteer tourism".

Volunteering in your own community can make more sense. By regularly devoting your time to an organization or cause that is close to your heart, you are showing colleges that you have a genuine interest in volunteering. For example, working in a long-term volunteer position at a local food bank shows a deeper commitment to volunteering than participating in an expensive,
week-long volunteer trip does.

Participate in the arts

While academics are definitely the most important factor in a college application, colleges also want to nurture a diverse and creative student body. As a result, interest and preoccupation with art for college application is always positive.

If you love any art form, be it visual art, drama, or music, be sure to explore it outside of the classroom. Take part in your school's theater program, play in the marching band, or take painting classes outside of school.

Participate in activities that highlight your emerging career goals

Universities like to see professional interest and ambition from applicants. Participate in
Extracurricular activities that reflect career research and goals show colleges that you would like to immerse yourself in professional projects. For example, if you're into politics, you might want to join Model UN or get involved in a political campaign. If you're interested in business, you can join a company, investment club, or even start your own small business.

These types of activities show schools that you are not only interested in a professional field in the abstract, but are also actively working to gain experience. If you are applying for a specific program, e.g. For example, a journalism school or a prestigious engineering program, extracurricular activities related to your majors show that you have a real interest and commitment in the subject you wish to study.

Work part time

Many students take part-time jobs during the school year and summer to spend money or help their families with expenses. When applying to college, a part-time job generally doesn't add much to your academic profile, but it can still be valuable to admissions officers. The work experience shows characteristics such as independence, responsibility and work ethic.

As you work to save money for college, you are showing to admissions officers that you are dedicated to your education and ready to work towards those goals. In addition, it shows that you are able to keep a demanding schedule between school and work hours.

However, part-time work should never be at the expense of academics. If you allow your grades to slide down in order to keep your part-time job, you are hurting your chances of getting into top schools. Even if you have a job, you should still devote some time to other extracurricular activities if that fits your schedule.

Get an internship

As with a job, an internship in high school shows independence and responsibility. An internship shows that you feel comfortable in the professional world and are able to actually join the workforce. In addition, it shows that you will pursue ambitious career opportunities during your studies.

An internship is only required if you are in your second or second year of study. However, attending school is a great way to network early and give the colleges confidence that you are an active and ambitious student.

Take college courses if they are available in your high school

Many colleges and community colleges allow students to take college-level courses at their institution. This type of course is known as a dual-enrollment class and allows students to explore more advanced material and even earn college credits.

Taking these courses can help you mentally prepare for the pace, material, and style of teaching you find in college classes so that you will be more familiar with the type of work you will do after graduating from college . If you do well on the course, the admissions officers will consider you well prepared for college coursework.

Taking a double enrollment course also shows that you are ready, and indeed eager, to be challenged academically and to be able to take the next step in your education. Universities will always see academic ambition as a positive trait.

Choose the depth based on the number of activities

College admissions officers value quality over quantity when evaluating an applicant's extracurricular activities. It is more important for applicants to focus on a few key extra-curricular positions where they can grow to leadership positions in the group than on
Participate in many different activities more casually.

In addition, when you take part in a range of extracurricular activities unrelated to your stated interests or emerging major, colleges have a hard time figuring out what you're really interested in. At worst, you might seem unfocused to some admissions officers. If you put a lot of time and effort into extracurricular programs that you stick with throughout high school, talk more to the colleges about who you are.

That's not to say you shouldn't try new programs! Most competitive applicants have taken 8 or 10 extracurricular courses during high school. You don't have to stick by all of them, but it's a good idea to have at least an activity or two that you will be more involved in and involved in throughout high school.


Extracurricular high school activities (that you enjoy) can help you express yourself to admissions officers. Highlight them on your college applications to demonstrate your leadership skills, interests, and ambitions.